As a field representative for members of Maine’s congressional delegation, Lauretta Torraca was the calming voice on the other end of the line, helping veterans find treatment, refugees navigate immigration issues and Portland’s homeless people find services.

Over the years, Torraca worked for U.S. Reps. David Emery and Thomas Andrews, and Sens. William Cohen and Susan Collins.

Lauretta Torraca Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Torraca

“She handled so many situations for all of these really influential politicians,” said her daughter Elizabeth Torraca, of Falmouth.

“For her, it wasn’t about politics. It was about serving the public. She was truly there to help people resolve their problems. She did this with incredible grace and concern.”

Torraca died March 28 surrounded by her family. She was 95.

She began her career in public service after the death of her first husband, Nunzio Torraca, in 1974. She worked part-time as a clerk for the Internal Revenue Service office in Portland before she was recruited to be a field rep for Emery, a Republican representing Maine’s 1st Congressional District.


Torraca was known as a great listener and problem-solver, who brought compassion and professionalism to her work.

At Cohen’s office, “there was a Vietnam vet who came up to the office with a loaded gun,” her daughter said. “She just put him in his place. After raising eight kids, nothing phased her. That was evident through her professional and private life.”

She spent 15 years in public office and, according to her family, helped establish Collins’ Portland office.

“I appreciate Lauretta’s many years of public service to our state,” Collins said in a statement. “During her time working at the IRS field office in Portland and for Members of Congress, she helped countless Mainers resolve issues with the federal bureaucracy and ensured they received the benefits they earned. I send my heartfelt condolences to Lauretta’s family.”

Torraca was a founding member of the Chinese & American Friendship Association of Maine, which was formed in 1988. She served as treasurer, secretary and archivist. Ah-Kau Ng, a board member and former chapter president, said Torraca helped organize Chinese New Year celebrations, the Moon Festival, and summer picnics.

“She was a stabilizing force for the organization,” Ng said. “With her there, we knew everything would work out fine. She will be greatly missed by all of us.”


Torraca lost one child, Anne, in utero when she was about seven months pregnant.

Her children said she was a positive, inspiring and calming influence in their lives.

“She was like a Zen master. You could go to her with anything,” said Elizabeth Torraca. “She would say, ‘OK, it’s not the end of the world. How are we going to approach this?’ She was this center of gravity, who was accepting and calm.”

“She was always there to give me whatever I needed … reassurance, love, food, or a good spanking,” said her oldest son, Paul Torraca, of Wakefield, Massachusetts, in an email.

Aimee Torraca Kohan, of Cape Elizabeth, said being the youngest child came with significant advantages.

“I got the mother who was experienced,” Torraca Kohan wrote in an email. “She stressed the importance of independence, having fun in life, and frequently acknowledged how fortunate we all were in our family …”


Torraca wore red lipstick. She loved lobster and Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, and ate popcorn with extra butter and salt. She played the grand piano, made earrings, painted and enjoyed watching “The Sound of Music” with her grandchildren.

She had a passion for adventure and loved trying new things. She enjoyed trips with her children to Mexico, Costa Rica, England, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Kenya and Morocco.

At 80, she took a ride in a glider plane.

At 82, Torraca ended her second marriage of more than 25 years. She started a new life. She found love again. She rekindled her passion for painting, and got her first tattoo, a musical note, at 93.

Lauretta Torraca shows off the tattoo she got at 93. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Torraca

“She wasn’t very happy,” Elizabeth Torraca said of her mother’s second marriage. “She had enough and needed to make a change. She had remarkable positivity as a driving force in her life. She felt, ‘I’m not dead yet. I still have life left to live. I deserve to live a happier life. I deserve love. I deserve joy.’ For a mother to say that to her kids and then act on it was so inspirational and phenomenal.”

Single again, Torraca lived in an apartment at the Betsy Ross House in South Portland. There, she met Richard “Skip” Skillin, her boyfriend of five years. The couple enjoying music, picnics at Bug Light Park, and vacations in Hawaii and Mexico.


The couple planned to elope while on vacation in Hawaii, but he passed away suddenly on April 13, 2012. He was 86.

“My mother was devastated,” said Aimee Torraca Kohan. “They were blissfully happy together. They were like kids again. It was wonderful.”

Shortly after Skillin died, Torraca moved to the Osher Inn at The Cedars. At 88, she found love again after meeting Robert “Bob” Callnan there. They were together for over three years and enjoyed taking road trips and relaxing at a cottage on East Grand Lake. He died in 2018 at age 94.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Torraca began living with two of her daughters and their families.

“This unexpected gift of slowed-down time granted us the ability to share family meals, reminisce about her life, and learn more about her in a way that otherwise would not have been possible,” Torraca Kohan said. “As a family we are all grateful to have had that time.”

A musical celebration of Torraca’s life will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. on May 28 at Hobbs Funeral Home in Scarborough. The obituary written by her family ends with her words, “I’ll see ya when I see ya!”

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